tv The FBI and a Nazi Spy Ring CSPAN December 29, 2016 1:24am-2:23am EST
the itinerary of admiral yamamoto and whether or not you felt that that made a significant contribution to the culmination of the war. >> that also -- that was an issue which i'm sure you know was very controversial at the time because the big question was they discovered whether the japanese commander in chief, by far japan's ablest senior strategist, where he's flying to, and they know where they are going to be able to find him, but big question is how big is was danger that the japanese were going to notice something fishy if they suddenly see these fighters so it was a big argument about whether the risk of the japanese on their codes was compromised was worth it. in the end they took the risk, and they got away with it because japanese counterintelligence, the japanese did such an extraordinarily genius people and they made wore unbelievably bad, thank goodness and the intelligence people, the
americans i suspect you know, left it to the japanese to announce yamamoto's death. the americans announced that a couple of japanese aircraft had chopped down and were given away by a whimper that they knew yamamoto was in one of them. they waited until the japanese had the big funeral in tokyo and so on and so forth whereas conversely there could have been a disit isary after midway where clever newspapers were tipping off, reporting the midway success was the result of code-breaking successes, and it is scary what that sort of stuff can do. i mean, we interest to say, if the guys on the other side were paying attention, the west was -- the western allied nations were fantastically lucky to get away with what they did with the code-breaking. >> time for one quick question and quick answer. alex, could you please stand.
>> a few months ago i went to college park to the smithsonian institution to hear james bond, i went over there, 165 people in the museum were there, sold out. i don't like -- so i listened for 80-minute seminar two gentleman about james bond and about 007, double agents. my question is -- >> yes, i was wondering what the question is. >> every 15 minutes they have
drinks. they didn't mention his fighter and not doing it for the money and doing it for the transaction. >> i think you better come and ask me afterwards when i'm not still not quite sure what the question was. >> referencing james bond, ian flemming and popov as well. >> oh, that, yes. i'm still not sure what the question is. >> may be a longer conversation. >> i can't tell you. it's always such a pleasure. you are the nicest audience in the whole world and even though i'm an ignorant foreign visitor you're so nice for me and i'm so grateful to the opportunity to speak with you again and meet with you again. thank you very much indeed. while congress is on break this week, we are taking the opportunity to show you american
history tv programs. normally seen only on weekends. we continue thursday night with a look at what happened after the end of world war ii. starting at 8:00 even with the fate of nazi and japanese war criminals after the war. that's followed by hour the war changed the u.s. and the rest of the world. american history-tv primetime all this week at 8:00 p.m. eastern. sunday "in-depth" will feature a live discussion on the presidency of barack obama. we're taking your phone calls, tweets, e-mails and facebook questions during the program. our panel includes april ryan, white house correspondent for american urban radio networks and author of "the presidency in black and white, my up close view of three presidents and race in america." princeton university professor eddie glaude, author of why the democracy in black, how race still enslaves the american soul" and pulitzer prize winning journalist and associate editor
of "the washington david maranis, author of "barack obama, the story." watch "indepot go the "live sunday noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern on book-tv on c-span 2. >> new year's night on "q&a" -- >> while people were starving van burren, he was having financing parties in the white house. it was part of the image-making where harrison was the candidate, poor man for the poor people and here was this rich man in washington sneering at the poor people. harrison had thousands of acres and an estate and he was actually a very wealthy man, but he was portrayed as the champion of the poor. when it came to the parades and they waved hand chiefs, some gave speeches, some wrote pamphlets, and it was very shocking. they were criticized by the democrats who said that these women should be home making pudding. >> ronald schaefer, author of the book "the carnival campaign," how the rollicking of
1848 and tippy canoe changed presidential elections forever. >> c-span, where history unfields daily. in 1979 c-span was creed as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> author pete duffy describes the story of an fbi double agent who helped unveal it a nazi spy ring. he talked about how the mission originated and how it pioneered the use of a hidden camera to gather evidence this. hour long talk is part of a multi-day conference at the national world war ii museum in new orleans.
our next presenter is peter duffy. many of you are probably aware of peter's old world war ii book "the bielsky brothers" featured in the recent film "defiance" about a group of jewish partisans who fought the gnat nazis, but peter is here today to discuss another individual who combatted the nazis, an american citizen who became a mole to expose nazi spies who had infiltrated the united states to. present on his book "double agent, the first hero of world war ii and how the fbi outwitted and destroyed a nazi spy ring." please join me in welcoming peter duffy. >> thank you very much. this is quite an stroosextraord
facility with some amazing equipment in front of us. i hope it holds while i'm up here and in fact one of our b 17 will be an issue that i'll touch on because the german spies were interested in a famous piece from that great airplane. i'm here to tell an interesting and unforgotten hero, the american character of world war ii, a quizzical character named wilhelm gotlieb segal and i'll note by saying that in early 1939 before this war war started mr. sebold living in new york boarded the ss "deutchland" on the west side piers of manhattan, and he sailed for nazi germany which was preparing for war. he was carrying a single
suitcase and a package and left his wife behind in their east 84th street apartment and the plan was to visit his mother in mulheim in aurora valley and recover from ulcer surgery and when he arrived in passport control in hamburg he was taken aside by nazi officials in plain clothes who questioned him about his life in the united states, and after learning that he had worked briefly at the consolidated aircraft corporation of san diego, which made those sea planes, those u.s. navy pby sea planes, the men promised ominously that siebold would hear from him again. up to that point siebold had lived a wayward existence, a mechanical draftsman apprentice as a teenager in germany, and he served from age 17 to age 19 in the german army, spending eight
months in the trenches during world war i and turned off by the unrest of the post-war years he decided to leave germany and he became a junior engineer on an oil company vessel that landed in galveston, texas, which was the first stop, and he jumped ship. an illegal immigrant, he worked for a year in rural texas, including for a time as a mule tenlder on a ranch before returning back to germany to mulheim to help hits parents through the economic difficulties of the hyperinflation period. and a year later he returned back to the sea, and he spent -- this time he jumped ship in south america where he spent two years working as a bartender and later as a diesel engineer in chile and peru. on february 13th, 1929, he entered the united states legally under the old quota system for german immigrants, and over the next two years he
traveled the country, basically a tramp as he would later be code named by the germans. he worked for various industrial outfits in oakland and fairbanks, alaska and san francisco and in milwaukee, erie. he was probably riding the rails like a lot of people were doing the depression year and finally he arrived in new york city and went straight to the german enclave of yorkville which is on the upper east side of manhattan, and there is only -- there's the bare traces of the german community that once was -- once thrived there. i think there's one restaurant, the heidelberg which i recommend on second avenue, and a few butcher shops, but beyond that it was a very thriving, particularly in the '20s and '30s, very, very thriving german community, and after hitler's ascension to power in 1933, many open supporters of the hitler regime. the most open were members of what became known as the
german-american bund who would march down 86th street which was the main stretch there in yorkville in full uniform with nazi flags and american flags, and they were a constant source of media fascination, constant tabloid presence was fritts kuehne, the bundes leader of the german-american bund. siebold took the oath that he made on february 10th, 1936, very seriously. he became an american citizen, and he pledged that i absolutely an entirely announce and be a dewer all allegiance to any prints, potentates, prince or sovereignty. he said i had nothing to do with hitler anymore. i was an american citizen. sorry, not used to talking so
much so i'll have to water myself occasionally. so after he arrived in germany, he was contacted by the regime as promised several months after arriving in his mother's home. siebold initially refused the startling office to go to the german espionage service. go there yourself, he told the man -- the man who approached him, identified himself as dr dr. gasner, appropriately spy worthy fame, but when siebold refused dr. gasner threatened him and he described the clothes he would be wearing when he was laid out in his casket. in fear for his life, siebold asked for the month of august, the month of august 1939 to think over the plan, as you can -- as i'm sure you know perhaps, the most momentous in 20th century history.
on august 23rd the hitler-stalin pact was announced which gave hitler the opportunity to invade pole land without great worry from the power to the east and on the same day that hitler launched the blitzkreig against poland commencing world war ii siebolg fled germany. he went to the american cons lieutenant in cologn seeking help but a mad scene at the consulate in cologne and the consulate clerk said run for the border, we can't help you. flagged down two motorists with northern license plates and fearful he was being followed by the gestapo and he was fearful they were following him, whether they were or not, who knows, and mindful he lacked proper papers to get past the checkpoints he gave in. he wrote to dr. gasner and said he accepted his proposition 100% n.time this dr. gasner
introduced him to dr. rankin which was one of the many aliases for nicholas fritts ritter who was an english officer based in hamburg who was looking for had a man he could send to new york as a messenger and a contact man for his small ring of spies there. siebold was nominated for the job, and nicholas ritter is a very interesting character, and he lived in the united states in the '20s where he became fluent in english. he married an alabama schoolteacher who he met in new york. they had two children. at this point he had brought them to germany. his american family. had an affair with his secretary and began divorce proceedings with his alabama wife who remained -- who has her own story and the two children, the spy's daughter, american born
doubt their currently lives in mclean, virginia. shirley the only daughter of a nazi spy with a syrup thick virginia accent. great lady. was a wonderful help for this book. she has an amazing war experience which we could spend all day speaking about. i think there's a tv movie being made of it. but nicholas ritter's great mistake, the strategic blunder that would lead to the spectacular downfall of his american spy ring occurred on the very day he met his newest agent. under ritter's orders siebold's u.s. passport was stolen. this is as genuine u.s. passport, likely so that an agent who doesn't have the travel advantages of legitimate u.s. citizenship could use it. ritter then instructed siebold to go to the u.s. consulate in cologn, the same place where siebold already attempted to tell his story and apply for a new passport through legitimate
channels which it doesn't seem like had a smart idea. the passport reapplication process required siebold to visit the consulate several times over the coming weeks, a period when the excitement of the early days of the war had subsided and siebold was eventually able to tell his story providing letters from ritter as backup to the consul general himself, alfred w.clyforth and in a cable to washington clyforth said siebold was being coerced into the german spy service and that he, quote, requests that he be met upon his arrival in new york by representatives of the state department in order to convey his story to them by word of mouth. really before he had ever done anything for the german spy service he already informed the united states government and
suggested he wouldn't be cooperating. siebold went back to the germans and underwent a total of ten days of training in hamburg in preparation for going it new york. he was lonld with other trainee spies and taught how to use a radio key to tap out messages in morse code and instructed in the use of a special camera to reproduce blueprints or documents on to a postage stamp sized microphotograph. schooled in a cipher system based on the letter arrangements of a particular page which would change each day in the british edition of rachel field's best selling historical romance "all this and heaven, too" which was made into a movie. the book is was unreadable. i couldn't get through two or three pages. the cipher system which i explained in a page and a half was probably the hardest thing for me to figure out since this is not my specialty.
many of you would probably pick it up very easily. siebold was provided with addresses of mail drops in shanghai, sao paulo and portugal and was christened with the code fame tramp, a clear acknowledgement of his footloose life up until then and he was told to conduct business in new york as harry sawyer who was -- my supposition is that he was related to tom sawyer and mr. ritter had read his mark twain when he lived in the united states. finally siebold was given $1,000 in american cash which when adjusted is about 16,000 and several microfilmled documents of instructions were hidden in the gears of his watch. unaccompanied and unsure if he was being followed he took the freezing rain from hamburg to munich and changed for the overnight to milan and continued the next northern for genoa. on january 29th, 1940, the ss
washington pushed off from the northern italian port bound for new york city. now, the ship was met at quarantine in the narrows in new york by a coast guard cutter which was carrying a state department officer and an fbi special agent who spoke briefly with siebold and asked if he'd be willing to come to the fbi's new york office and knolly square for further discussions. now siebold thought once i get to new york this will be over very quickly, i'll give them everything i have and i'll be on my way and won't be involved in all of this anymore and all of this unpleasantness will go away. after two days of telling his story at foley square, he was asked if he was willing to become the fbi's first counterspy. now, the phrase double agent was not yet in common parlance when this case went to trial in 1941. all the new york tabloid and new york newspapers did not once use
the phrase double agent or the compound double agent. it was always counterspy and in fact was introduced during opening arguments what a counterspy was to the jury. it was such a foreign concept. assigned to be siebold's handler was an fbi agent names james c. ellsworth who was a mormon and gain fluency in german during the weimar period in germany. he happened to be an inveterate diarist and letter writer, and i contacted and found his son still alive out in california, and they had all his diaries from his entire scope of his life and he -- after this case closed, after this 16-month, 18-month case he began a diary describing all that they had gone through which is an extraordinary research. any writer would give, you know, his left hand for something like that, and -- and he -- and in
his diery, his first meeting of siebold, they met at a hotel in new york and he said as i was coming out of the shower in the hotel room, siebold came in. i found siebold to be a tall, 6'3", thin, 160-pound german, big-boned and brown-eyed and had brown hair. spoke english brokenly but as time went on he spoke english very well. but the fbi, as you can imagine, was really not sure what this was all about, whether they could truly trust this character with this extraordinary story, and the idea that the germans would -- would send someone who wasn't entirely on board to be the center of such an operation really had them wondering, and siebold himself, they were -- sibold demanded a special meeting with the new york office
because he wasn't entirely comfortable with what he was supposed to do and percy sam foxworth was the head of the fbi new york office and mr. foxworth sent a memo to j. edgar hoover after meeting with siebold and this is how he was described. he has han hon hefty complex and in fact he's so honest that i'm afraid some day he'll give himself away because of his inability to do his part. he has a mania for doing what is right. if the german government would really knew him they never would have entrusted him with the assignment they gave him and he took his assignment knowing he'd never going through it but knew he had to do something in order to get out of germany alive. he states that an oath is a sacred thing and when he swore to be loyal to the united states and a loyal united states citizen at the time he was naturalized he considered that a sacred oath and he considers he renewed that oath at the time he was given a passport.
he's of the opinion if a man breaks faith with him in any respect that man is not worthy of any further consideration with him. it is, therefore, apparent that if sy ebold feels the bureau does not trust him or would fail to carry out any part of what he thinks is the contract with him, he would blow up and probably ruin the case. you can imagine what they felt as they began trailing him as he conducted his way into this new york spy ring. he was given four names. four extraordinary characters, and this -- this spy ring which winds up having 33 members, begins with four. it's quite a rogue's gallery. there was frederick jubert fritts duclain a monocle clad south african. enjoyed an out landish career as
bon vivant and playboy and spy. he had many stories during the bore war and world war i. he claimed to have been simmon for the sinking of the ship which carried field marshall hort yore herbert kirchner, the architect of britain's war strategy in 1916 which would have made him the greatest spy in history, surely. certainly the greatest german spy. and although that story was untrue and there was a book written in 1932 called "the man who killed kirchner." duquesne was a saboteur who committed violent acts against british and according to the fbi which is wonderfullly chaste he lived, quote, without the benefit of clergy with a much younger girlfriend at 24 west 76th street which is half had a block from central park. it was then a polish -- it was a
boarding house owned by a polish woman. today it's owned by a silicon valley billionaire i think. second, there was lilly stein, a 26-year-old vine ease jew who was living in an aerpd in midtown and assigned to seduce american and british officers in hopes of learning war secrets. she reach the united states by vienna by way of a visa provided by augie hammond jr. who was the vice counsel of the u.s. consulate in vienna with whom she was having an affair, and she got a german passport furnished by nazi spymasters who were eager to set up a mata hari operation in new york. the passport described her as a half jew even though both of her parents were jewish. during one of their early meetings stein made a pass at
siebold who rebuffed her advances. why is it you american men are always afraid of women, she said, and the fbi file is full of these little comments she mak makes. third, there was everett roeder, ed roeder who was a bronx-born cornell dropout who had been working on precisions weapons systems since 1916. he was an engineering genius and a gun enthusiast who was always showing off his weapons to siebold who was worried, one of these days, if i don't watch myself, according to the description of him in the fbi file is that he was blind in his right eye which gives it a peculiar stare which i think we can see how hollywood would handle that, and finally there was herman lang who was an ideological nazi from a bavarian mountain village who was living in the borough of queens who had
already succeeded in giving the germans the plans for america's greatest pre-war secret which is hovering above us, the norden bomb site, scientific marvel which was produced at 80 lafayette street in a minutan and enabled airplanes, the b-17 bomber, to drop planes with unprecedented accuracy. the legend, of course, was that it could drop bombs into a pickle barrel. once the war start, that wasn't quite -- didn't work as well as we had all hoped but pre-war and certainly in the early years of the war the norden was our great -- our great great war secret. and herman lang had already given these plans to the germans. siebold earned the trust of his spy contacts and slowly the circle of his contacts widens. he began meeting with several naturalized germans who were working on the kitchen and dining staffs of the american flagged passenger liners which
plied between europe and new york, and these men served as couriers delivering intelligence and money to and from germany. included in this group was the chief butcher of the "ss manhattan" who came one day in the spring of 1940 with a message from germany. one of the letters in the -- in the butcher's envelope -- i'll let -- i'll take a drink while that passes. one of the letters in the butcher's envelope to siebold outlined the technical specifications necessary to make morse code contact with the hamburg radio station, the spy station. using the funds given to sieblod in germany bureau agents obtained two receivers, a sky champion and a hammerlund super pro, refrigerator-sized 100 watt
ht-9 transmitter which was later used to power a more powerful 500-watt transmitter and cables and support and feed lines which after failed tests in the static-heavy new york office were intauld in a rented two-room cottage in a hilly area among the trees near center port on long island sound. quote, as the last solder connection was made and the below torch silenced it was noted that the time was a few seconds before 7:00 p.m. the next regular calling time of the german control station according to the information given to siebold, wrote richard l. millen, a special agent flown up from washington to help set up the system. quote, the receivers were turned to the designated frequency and the ht-9 warmed up. very shortly morse code dots and dashes were heard. at first they were copied as rao, rao, rao in that they were too closely spaced and run
together. realizing this fact the engineers soon separated the dots and dashes into the desired call of aor, aor, aor. when the control station stopped sending, the bureau's undercover station began sending a series of dots and dashes in accordance with siebold's instructions. the transmitter was stopped after five minutes and the receivers turned on. the german control returned briskly with congratulations and instructions for the next contact. a working link had been established. groundwork had been laid for the case to evolve. over the next 11 months this center port station, the fbi-run morse code station, received 167 messages from hamburg seeking a wide variety of information about airplane production, weather forecast, ship-building progress, materiel exports and munitions innovations. you must all get busy getting new men and detailed news, news, news, went one message so
siebold. from our end an fbi special agent named maurice h. price pretending to be siebold tapped out 301 messages to hamburg, first approved by a government oversight panel that included j. edgar hoover. the dispatches were vaguely worded or outright fictitious. with this siebold's context grew even wider. in november of 1940, the center port station seefeld a message from hamburg wondering if siebold could set up an account in a new york bank to which germany could wire funds to pay the spies. the fbi responded five days later, quote, since i have good connections in diesel lines, i recommend opening a small research office licensed business fame and suitable space present no difficulties as research offices continually need money. you can send me a large amount. yes. the response came from germany. quote, we are in agreement.
open office immediately. advise when and where you want remittance sent and the highest amount possible for you to handle without suspicion. so this gentleman, siebold with the help of the fbi was now the paymasterer of a spy ring, a direct contact via the -- wasn't necessary to rely on the slow passage of passenger liners and couriers coming from germany. they had direct radio contact. this thing was really opening up, and they opened this office, an office where he would meet the spies. and the fbi chose the gaudy heart of america, the bozart's building with french ren nance ornamentation at the southeast corner of broadway and 42'd street in times square. formerly the knickerbocker hotel, now an office, by the way, it still stands, this
building. formerly the knickerbocker hotel now an office building known for its most prominent tenant "newsweek" magazine white house staffers were ignorant. huge story taking place on the sixth floor. dealing directly with the building's owner who offered to replace the manager if he wasn't cooperative enough the bureau rented room 627 and two adjacent offices, 628 and 629. in the days after the deal was reached in late november 1940, agents created a stage set with the largest space occupied by the office of william g.siebold diesel engineer, the words print on the doors of 627. the setup was centered around a large desk that was expertly bugged and within a few feet of a silver-coated two-way wall mirror, behind which a bureau agent, usually richard l. johnson, was operating a sprung-wound motion picture camera in a soundproof space. quote, we just barely had enough
light to make a picture and it was necessary to slow the camera down as slow as it would go and open the lens wide open in order to get a good picture, johnson said. positioned within his line of site were a clock encased within a wooden frame whittled by one of the agents and a flip page calendar, both which had numbers large enough to be readily viewable to future jurors. quote, well, siebold had his back turned it me most times, said johnson and sometimes he had his face -- the side of his face turned to me, of course, we were more interested in the other person. the conversations in the room were monitored by headphonewearing german-speaking agents who could take the stand as eyewitnesses to bolster siebold's likely voluminous testimony and record it on to lacquer aluminum discs by the turntables. state of the art presto recording system. by early december a telephone had been installed, phone number
bryant 9-1609. business cards print up and $5,000 in nazi money wired through mexico to siebold's new account at chase national bank, first of three transfers sent via this method totaling $16,50 $16,500. s from december 1940 when this office was set up until june 1940-4-1, the fbi recorded 81 meetings between siebold an various members of the spy ring, including a japanese agent and an irish member of a branch of the ring that met in a yorkville bar. particularly helpful, they just came right in. particularly helpful individual was paul fazy who was a marine spy who special pized in collecting information on british merchant ships leaving new york harbor which he hoped to relay to u-boats who were
sinking them in great numbers during these months. think 500,000 tons of merchant shipping was sunk in april 19414 by u-boats so that's what he was attempting to halt. fazy, to give you a sense of what -- what it was like in this office, on january 25th, 1941, fazy introduced siebold to the head chef of the "ss america" who produced the ship's blueprints and showed where the gunners would be placed when the gunner was located to the u.s. navy as was soon expected. this would be this clip of bringing out the ship's blueprints would be something that would be shown frequently later on in an fbi newsreels and such. on february 10th, fazy wondered if siebold had ever heard of a courier named walter shoesky who began intearinggations of a
steward on the "ss uruguay" of the mccormick shipping line. on march 5th fazy identified a nazi ideologue in a hudson county new jersey branch of the dab, a pro-nazi front organization. on march 12th fazy arrived with even rick closesen from the "is the is the argentina" who sent messages to germany through a mail drop in brazil and he also spoke of the owner of the little casino bar on siebold's block on east 85th street in yorkville which turned out to be the rendezvous point for another ring of spies, the fourth. the last spy to visit the office was fritts duquesnes, the south african born bon vivant who stayed until after the german invasion of the soviet union and then on saturday, june 28th, and
sunday, june 29th, 19414, some 250 fbi agents were deployed. they swooped in and arrested 33 nazi spies, still the largest apprehension of foreign espionage agents in the history of the united states. at this point in the case, these gentlemen, there were three women and 30 men, were feeling the heat was coming down and several of them were talking about fleeing the country. this is why the fbi chose this moment. there were 34 warrants, 33 were served and the one guy who got away was the irishman who was the only one of this entire group who had a problem with the office, and he ordered -- he convened a meeting at one of the bars with a couple of the germans hand they brought siebold in and had a stiff interrogation of what was going on through the office and the irishman, a guy by the fame of sean connolly never bought it, and he fled before the fbi could get him hand whatever happened to him, who knows.
during the six-week trial in brooklyn federal court siebold was finally able to tell the truth. the defendants and their lawyers portrayed him as a fearsome nazi who coerced them into joining the spy ring. one of the marine spies testified that siebold testified he would never see his mother again if he didn't support the cause and another said i was afraid of him, and this was a potent charge in german america. memories were fresh of those of german birth who were imprisoned on sketchy allegations of disloyalty during world war i and siebold was seen as the embodiment of a new anti-german crusade. the highlight of the trial was the showing of these films. which was an extraordinary novelty hat that moment in history. during the following week in brooklyn, the nation was provided with a glimpse of the advanced techniques that were
already being deployed against the enemy. after agents testified about duquesnes's visit to the 42nd street office the judge made the following announcement. members of the jury i'm going to ask you come to the other side of the cow room. you'll occupy the seats on this side. it may not be possible for you to see from the chairs. some of you may have to stand. if you don't observe everything please interrupt and tell us. the courtroom was darkened and johnson's film was projected on a five-foot screen behind the jury box. the american relationship with the hidden surveillance camera was born as the rapt audience watched 12 soundless minutes of fritts duquesne glancing through reason 627 sitting across siebold reaching into his sock for his spy secrets and conversing animatedly. duquesnes had a broad grim on my life. haul my life i wanted to be in movies and when i made it, what
do i do, he said. sit there and scratch my ass and pick my nose. the "new york times" scoffed at how the government had resorted to the use of motion pictures in open court, wrote jim ellsworth, the fbi special agent. i think duquesne was convicted now. indeed he was. in the early afternoon of december 11, 1941, four days after pearl harbor, adolf hitler formally declared war against the united states and at midnight on the following day, december 12th, a jury of nine men hand three women after eight hours of deliberations delivered guilty verdicts on all counts against all defendants and dismissing them from the duties the judge solidified the jurors it will readily appear you've rendered a very substantial contribution to the welfare of the country which you and i hold very dear. siebold had already disappeared
into an early version of the witness protection program. after the trial he was we located to a small home in walnut creek,icle outside of san francisco where he had reason to fear for his life. when the nazis sent eight saboteurs to the united states in 1942, eight saboteurs, up of their assignments was to exact revenge on bill siebold. there's no stone big enough for him to hide under, said one of the organizers of the sap tour's mission which, however, was foiled almost immediately bon landing in the united states. six of the eight i believe were executed in washington city jail. siebold worked as a night watchman on the docks in martinez, california, raised chickens for a while. he worked -- a cleanup man at the callahan tunnel diablo and work part-time at the walnut creek post office, but he had had a very difficult time, as he
slowly -- his -- he came more and more depressed and the idea that the germans were going to get him increased in his mind and as he got older he became very, very paranoid, eventually ending his life in the -- in the napa county hospital which is for the psychiatric problems, and he died -- he suffered -- he was suffering from manic depression according to his death certificate and when he died on february 16, 19770, no obituary appeared in any newspaper. not even a death note. really truly forgotten. throughout his final years the fbi and this is something that was very difficult for me to find -- to get out of the bureau, their personal file on siebold in the final years of his life, the -- the office in san francisco, the fbi office was constantly going up and dealing with him trying to help
him out and trying to get him jobs, and -- and the -- and the -- he always emphasized, even in his most delusional moments, that he was proud of what he did and he never sought anything but to honor his oath that he gave in -- when he became a citizen, and this is just to end, in 1954, an fbi special agent went up to see him, and he was talking about he thought the germans were still following him. he thought that he was certain to be attacked by them. of course, years and years, decade after the third reich had fallen, and to end with a quote from this fbi special agent. it appeared that siebold just wanted to talk to someone. he explained that he did what he did for the country rather than for the fbi. he pointed out that following the trial he did not take advantage of making money from the story or from radio or movie
because he felt he had done what he did for the good of the country. happy to take any questions, and thank you for your time. this has really been a pleasure. [ applause ] thank you. >> if you raise your hand and wait for a microphone, we'll come right to you. we'll start with tom to your left, mr. duffy. >> we have don from texas right here, sir. >> so you mentioned that it was difficult to on tape that file from the fbi. what kind of hoops did you have to jump through to get that information? >> freedom of information act requests and i had to bother them towards the end of the process, and -- and a lot of prodding and pushing, but it -- it did take a couple of years to
get some of these files out of them and even though this case was 80 years old, 75 years old, they still go through it and redact names out, even though people are long dead and their children are probably long dead so just a long bureaucratic process that you just have to see through right to the end. >> we're going to go all the way to your right in the front row, as soon as i get there. >> did his wife play any role in this? was she aware of, his family, et cetera, and if so what was that? >> that's a good question. i'll mention first the family in germany. throughout the case and in the immediate period after the war began and he was in hiding in california, he was extremely worried about reprisals, particularly when his fame came out at the trial, but particularly concerned about reprisals against his family. he had had a mother who was
still alive and two siblings -- two brothers and a sister. he was -- so he didn't know what happened to them for -- until '45, so from 1941 to 1945 he had no idea whether his mother or any of his family had suffered because of what he had done. they didn't in the end. his mother survived. a brother died, but it was in a car accident, so he was very relieved that there wasn't any reprisals against his family. his wife was with him throughout the case, and in the beginning of the case, the fbi said don't tell her what you're doing. obviously that didn't last very long, and she was there throughout by his side. they were living -- at a certain point -- in the beginning of the case he lived with his fbi handler and eventually they had their own apartment. she was there throughout the case and lived with him for the end of his life out in the san francisco. very -- didn't reveal much. she wasn't someone who was
involved or would have been out there with him, but was just waiting for him to come home each day. an interesting woman, and there's actual footage of her after the case closed out -- before the trial but after the arrests were made, the fbi took siebold out to long island to hide out, and there's actually the fbi took footage of them out there, and you can see his wife, and she provided dinners for the fbi agents and was kind of a strong support for him. >> mr. duffy, over here to your left we have rick from florida. >> i've got a two-point -- two-part question for you. can you tell us about the sentences for the germans who were convicted, and then tell us about the saboteurs who came with a mission in part to get siebold. >> sure. the sentences, it's very interesting, these -- the stiffest sentences were 20 years for herman lang who stole the
nuren bomb site and fritts duq ur esne 20 years and they were all out by their early 50s, either deported back to germany or remained in the united states, so these are sentences that would not be meted out at such a light level these days. the saboteurs, yes, because of this case, 33 german spies were wrapped up. when the war began and the convictions, as i not, came down right as the war -- as hitler declared war on the united states. there was no german saboteurs or spies operating in the united states. that meant that the nazis had to send saboteurs. there were two u-boats that were sent to the united states in 1942. one landed in long island and one down in jacksonville, florida. they were quickly discovered.
all of the saboteurs were quickly arrested. as i noted, i think six of the eight were executed. the two who weren't were the cooperating witnesses. george dash who is one of them is noted in his memoir that one of his missions was -- one of their missions, the saboteur's missions was to get siebold. >> another question to your right. >> yes. i have a question. did you get ahold of any of the german records from their side on this case? >> yes.
and with the bomb site that was individually used by the invasion of the soviet unionincorporated intelligence that was gleaned from it. that was one aspect of it. it was -- they were very keen to note the importance of several. >> the question, jeff. question for you, how did you first form a bond the story and what got you interested in telling it and how long did it take you to research, did you use so many different sources and things like that to get this story outsthere and tell us about every angle. >> i came upon it because i was doing some research on fifth column groupsv: in the united states during the 30s and during the war. and stumbled upon the fact that there were german spy here and,
i mean, the german spy in america's story isn't as well-known -- isn't well-known because this case was so successful. there are other spies÷ú and the are other spy stories of germans of the united states, but nothing quite like this. and when i looked at it and realized it was÷ú a single individual out of which this entire operation grew and is still the largest case in u.s. history, knew there was a story and nobody knew who he was and the one thing i was able to do from him from his family and also from record and publish the photo from the first time. p, you know, newspapers covered it for example, there were no photographs taken and i'm sure that was something that the fbi insisted, the u.s. government insisted. and i also consider this kind of volume two of story, my first
and essentially the case was handed to --zv this case was. >> my question is is the fbi ever do like an investigation where actually investigated and tracked down people who÷ú didn' walk in and surrender, basically during the course. >> yeah, there are other cases, but they are much more minor, a minor character, even, what's ook, he spies by him. i'm blanking on -- go into some
of those cases. they, a lotu! of them, though, were like this, were stumbled. a lot of these guys, you know, were not going toko get very fa and bombing war factories in the united states wasn't going to work. a lot of them were zvclowns. >> not to step in here, but i think the audience would be interested in knowing what you're working on next, because i was when you told me. >> i kind÷ú of a volume three o nazi resistance tail and first one being kind of an armed resistance that saved 1,200 jus from the nazis really in the furnace, this one, a little mora distant before it happened, a real story of physical cringe. and really over coming his own reluctance to perform this extraordinary fee for his
adoptive country. the third one, it's still in the vgr2 early stages, it's more about those voices who were warning and no one was listening about the rise of hitler. i centered around a courthouse that happs" in new york in 1935 and completely forgotten case in which it's kind of inherent the wound style court caseswhere the potential evil of the german regime was put before the country and very few yn cf1o listened. it was of what would come. i'll be here in a couple of years to tell you all about that. >> we'll hold you to that. are there any otherym questions ladies and gentlemen. of course, in the very s